The White Sox have agreed to minor league contracts with outfielder Jake Marisnick (as first reported by Kenny Van Doren of Astros Future) and infielder Erik Gonzalez (as indicated on the transaction log at MiLB.com). Marisnick will be invited to Major League Spring Training and would earn a $1.3MM salary if he makes the team. Gonzalez, presumably, will also be in camp this spring.
Marisnick, 32 in March, spent the 2022 season with the Pirates, for whom he posted a tepid .234/.272/.390 slash in a tiny sample of 82 plate appearances. He’s appeared in the Majors every year since debuting with the Marlins back in 2013 but has never topped the 372 plate appearances he recorded with the Astros back in 2015. Overall, he’s a lifetime .228/.281/.384 batter in 2164 plate appearances, though his .235/.292/.412 slash against lefties is a slight improvement over those career rates.
The signing of Marisnick gives the South Siders a potential right-handed-hitting complement to lefty-swinging right fielder Gavin Sheets (and, to a lesser extent, a complement for fellow lefty Andrew Benintendi in left field, though Benintendi will likely play every day regardless of opponent). In that sense, he could potentially fill a role similar to the one Adam Engel has occupied for the Sox in recent seasons. Engel signed a one-year deal with the Padres recently after being non-tendered by Chicago back in November.
The fleet-footed Marisnick is capable of playing any of the three outfield slots and is generally regarded as a plus defender at each. Statcast ranked him in the 85th percentile of Major Leaguers in terms of average sprint speed this past season and in the 96th percentile in terms of arm strength. Of his 5125 career innings in the outfield, 4231 have come in center field. Marisnick, then, is also a viable defensive-minded backup in the event of a Luis Robert injury. He’s tallied impressive marks of 76 Defensive Runs Saved and 48 Outs Above Average in those 5125 innings of outfield work. That’s the eighth-best DRS mark of any outfielder since 2013 and 12th-best OAA mark, despite the fact that the majority of names ahead of him on the list have played far more innings.
Gonzalez, 31, is another former Pirate (2019-21) but spent the 2022 season with the Marlins organization. He posted just a .189/.268/.216 slash in the Majors, but that came in a sample of only 41 plate appearances. Gonzalez spent the bulk of the season in Triple-A, where he logged a much more palatable .284/.336/.373 slash while appearing at all four infield positions (albeit just one inning at first base).
Since debuting with Cleveland back in 2016, Gonzalez has appeared in parts of seven Major League seasons. He’s a combined .242/.276/.340 hitter but has drawn plus DRS marks at all four infield spots and plus OAA marks at both shortstop and third base. That ability to play anywhere on the infield will give him a chance to earn a bench spot in Spring Training and, if he begins the year in Triple-A, could make him one of the team’s first options in the event of an injury in the big league infield.